Ready for Thesis…

Ready for Thesis.

Ready for Thesis?

Both the same set of words, yet one obviously a statement and the latter a question.  Currently I am at the second and working towards the bold, strong, statement that is the first.

My show, Blue: A love affair is finally up and nearly ready to go.  The photographs are all pretty much set where they are with a few tweaks to be presented here and there.  I painted an entire wall blue, which wasn’t as daunting as one might think and it came out surprisingly a beautiful, solid, fresh navy blue.

The show will be up all this week, until Saturday with a closing reception happening at 6:30pm on Friday in Byers gallery.  If you’re around, come check it out and say hello.


 

Now it’s time to start really working into my thesis.  I’ve been planning to use appropriated imagery and reprinting them through alternative photo processes like salt printing or Van Dyke printing to create a new composition, so the work I recently completed for Blue, technically was very helpful in getting me ready to work in those processes.   Content wise I am still struggling as far as where exactly I will go.  I know I’d like to discuss my family and fabricated memories built through photographs, but just how I will do that is still up in the air.

I grew up in a great home in a wonderful region of the Pocono Mountains of North East Pennsylvania.  I spent a lot of time outdoors with my sister and brother, played sports, had a ton of friends, and great parents that supported me in academics, arts, and after school sports.  There are moments in my childhood, however, that things were not so picture perfect.  Moments that are lost and unrepresented in the photographs that fill the family albums in my parents home.  I wonder what role photography can play in exploring these lost memories and how they have effected me emotionally.  My relationship with my Dad has always been a rocky one.  Two strong Type A personalities with a ton of things to say just generally don’t get along super well and as I got older I got less and less patient with my father and more eager to argue back with him when the opportunity arose.  (Very typical teenager of me you’d say, but the arguing definitely stemmed from things that are rooted much deeper).  Despite this, my Dad is an amazing man.  A hard worker, who has sacrificed immensely for my family and in ways that I will never be able to repay him for, but in his efforts to provide he also became absent.  I’ve always been proud to say my dad is a fire fighter- a hero to me and my siblings and even to strangers, but the long shifts and far commute didn’t always make a ton of time for being at home with family.

As an artist and in general, I have never really taken the time to think about all of these dynamics that have been created within my family and the way they have effected me.  And as stated previously, I have never been one to make highly emotional or personal work, but grad school is all about change and challenging yourself right?  So here are some of the questions I am asking myself and ideas I am trying to work through as I navigate through my own personal narrative in efforts to create new work.


 

What does it mean for someone to be physically present in life but also absent emotionally?

How can I express my own perspective on my childhood without being insensitive to my family?

My dad being a fire fighter has always been something I am extremely proud of, but it also kept him away from getting to know me and my siblings better, how has that changed or challenged me growing up? How can that be brought forward in a visual and physical object?

How does having such a similar personality to my Dad effect me?  What does it mean to me to be so much like him?

What do I want to portray or say about my childhood?

What memories do I want to explore? How can I explore them without be exploitative?

 

….

 

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A recap of Spring 2017- better late than never

Phew… well it has been a while since I’ve posted.  Each time I have stopped into the studio I have reminded myself to get on here and post my end of semester work with an update and yet somehow it always manages to get tossed aside.  So, alas! All those that have been anxiously waiting, (no one), here it is!

 

 

I finished the semester with 4 finished pieces.  There are some questions remaining, things that could be further pushed and/or explored but overall I am happy with the result and was confident in what I had produced.  Just a month or so before the end of the semester I was having a total mental breakdown thinking I would have nothing to produce, so although 4 pieces may not seem like much- they felt like quite an accomplishment to me.   Below are images of the works before they were installed in the Beeler Lobby for the 2017 CHROMA exhibit.  If you live locally in Columbus I encourage you to stop by and check them out.  I won’t say much as I could really write forever about the struggles that I had throughout this semester and the resulting works, but instead I will leave you with my artist statement a brief description of the process and materials along with photos of the works allowing them all to work together and speak for each other.

Materials/Process:

A series of 4 crocheted photographs printed on silk and cotton fabrics, cut up and created into a yarn like structure, then finger crocheted.

Statement:

Over the past year I have watched my twin sister transition from college graduate to full time teacher, fiancé, and mom to two pets. She shares a home with her partner and they plan to be married in October of this coming year. Within this home structure she fulfills a very typical housewife role completing all the traditional domestic chores while her future husband tends to the “outside work.” I have observed her frustrations and stresses as she struggles to fulfill the role of “housewife” on top of her daily regime and very much have been frustrated by these expectations that have been set for her.

Using a camera to document this personal history as well as a collective of couples around the Midwest these photographs depict domestic interiors cut up, crocheted, and restructured creating a new image entirely. The crocheting process serves as a means to bring power to women’s craftwork while reconstructing and reconfiguring the domestic space offering redefinition of roles, ideas, and expectations within that setting.

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Crochet images 

After a stressful day and a brief mental breakdown, I took the afternoon to reclaim some of my fabric image scraps from last semester. I cut them down into about 1/2″ or 1/4″ strips and connected them to create a length of “yarn.”  I then hand crocheted the images together. 
Recently I have been exploring a lot with materials and process. I’ve hit a pretty hard wall it feels and for a while felt like I lost a large creative drive because I was stressing myself so much about content. I’ve been doing my best to put that all aside and just make for the sake of making- go back to just allowing myself to be a creative thinker and artist the way I know how to. 

So here’s some images of my experiment from the evening- not quite finished and it’s definitely something I’d like to continue to develop. 

Final Thoughts on a final critique

As my final critique rolled around, I was excited, a little anxious, but excited.  I felt like I had completed a decent amount of work, varying with different materials and printing substrates as well as installation works.  All of which were things I had either not done before or had little experience with.  I felt prepared.  Why then when the time came to present my work was I so bloody nervous??  One may never know.  Either way, the feedback and critique were both helpful.

As I photographed couples and their homes, my work began to take on the idea/construct of a sort of sociological survey of people living in their domestic spaces today.  Which was indeed what I was investigating, however, it wasn’t making my viewpoint come to light or bringing forth the message I would have hoped.  The images documented these lived in spaces and the people inhabiting them but really what were they saying?  Truthfully, not too much.  They were documents.  There were some interesting things happening I think with sewing into the details of images, printing and collaging on cotton, as well as printing on silk and yet still they were not quite saying what I wanted them to say.

I watch many women around me deal with the daily frustrations of being responsible for the domestic duties within their home, and as a woman myself I find it daunting and aggravating.  I see the women I know exhausted, stressed; not feeling as though they have enough time in the day to go to work, get what they need for dinner, tend to their own wants- maybe workout or do some yoga- and also get dinner prepped and cooked by a reasonable time.  Not to mention clean and vacuum on the weekends, while they also work their second job.  All the while, their partner spends his time perhaps relaxing in his chair watching tv while dinner is prepared or maybe outside doing some work in the yard or garage until it’s time to come in and eat and then relax before bed.

Many women I know enjoy cooking, enjoy baking, and heck some even enjoy cleaning, however, it is when these things suddenly go from voluntary activities to required underlying expectations that a line is crossed and they no longer become enjoyable. As a woman I find it incredibly exhausting to think that this is what my life may become but truthfully I hope to find a partner that will be willing to share these duties so that I will not have to feel as much of the burden and frustration that many other women I know face.

As I begin this semester and continue exploring these ideas I hope to bring to light this notion of frustration, exhaustion, and daunting task work that women undergo as shared household members.  I am hoping to continue to work with printing on different fabrics and finding a way to manipulate them to show my point of view and opinions on the subject matter more clearly.

 

Below are images from my final critique.  A culmination of a semester’s investigation.

Thanks to Alice Frenz

In my last post I mentioned the idea of quilting images together as a means of collage- so without hesitation the process has begun. Luckily CCAD is blessed to have a textile digital fabric printer and even more blessed to have a faculty member, Alice Frenz, who spends 10+ hours with this machine printing things for students. I met with Alice on Wednesday about possibilities and scheduled to make some tests for today. She’s wonderful to work with and today was more than accommodating. We actually made my first full print!

There are a variety of textile materials to print on and I am so excited for the opportunity to print on both cotton and silk fabrics. The silk will allow me to layer transparent images on top of the opaque cottons- allowing for a more traditional collage element. Monday I will print my second base image and then hopefully have the silks by mid week!

 

Let the cutting and sewing begin!

 

Books

I love to read.  Always have, and probably always will.  There’s nothing I love more than sitting in bed, or on the couch,  with a book while drinking some tea and so with that, most of what I read is very intentional;  something I know I will enjoy, or get something out of.  Whether it’s a book I am reading just for fun or with the purpose of informing and inspiring artwork, I am always looking and picking up things that are specific to my needs and interests.  So, when asked to think of some books or a book I have read or am reading that take/s “unexpected bearing on [my]work,” I find it a bit difficult to answer seeing that all that I read has an intentionality behind it and usually there isn’t much to be “unexpected.”

…To be continued.

 

Upon thinking more about this topic I have come to see and understand that the unexpected doesn’t necessarily have to mean a book that would be unexpected to influence your practice but rather, how that intentional book may unexpectedly effect your practice!  Below, are examples of two books I have read over the passed two years and continue to read or look to for inspiration.

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Gail Collins’ book When Everything Changed is always a source for great quotes that help me figure out how to bring to light issues that women face/d in society.  This book specifically initiated two photo book projects that took specific quotes from her book as means to begin and end the hand bound photo book I created.

birds-wildflowers-vintage-cookbooks-047.jpgBelieve it or not, I also love to look at vintage cook books for inspiration.  Usually you can find a cheeky quote or two about women in the kitchen and how they are supposed to make the perfect casserole for their husband and have it ready as soon as he gets home from work.  (Something I often now find comical, but it shines a real light on how things used to be for women in our world).

 

A current book I am reading is titled, Domestic Space edited by Inga Bryden and Janet Floyd.  Within the text is multiple articles and I am currently reading Tranquil Havens? Critiquing the idea of home as the middle-class sanctuary.  So far the article has provided some interesting information in regards to thinking about sections of a home as workspaces and/or thinking about the interpretation of space based on who entered them and when.  For example, a servant who woke up early to scrub/polish the interior of the fireplace and then replenish the fire would look at that space throughout the day remembering the hours of labour and hard work put into it, but perhaps the man of the house who enters that same space upon waking up would be proud of his wealth reflected in the shining silver and even welcomed and comforted by the warmth of the fire.  The hours of labour and extensive work are not a thought in his mind.  So, I begin to wonder if we still see these same sort of divisions of workspace and interpretative difference in the home today. Thinking about spaces like “man caves” reserved for men and their buddies, and the bedroom, kitchen, or living space still being reserved as feminine spaces, is this really prevalent now?  What kinds of items within a home are deemed as feminine or male?  What areas would a male look at with pride while a woman looks at with exhaustion and anguish, remembering the labor and work put into it?

So currently, reading about 18th century victorian homes and the division of classes within them, I am “unexpectedly” thinking about how those same principles and ideas are within the world today and figuring out how as an artist I can explore that concept and bring it into conversation.